My name is Liz. I’m Deaf.
While I have been employed at Intel for more than 18 years, I would say the most significant challenge related to my disability occurred about two years ago, when my manager at the time decided to take a different role in the company and my team was reassigned. I did my best to adapt to the new role but found it very difficult to participate as fully as required in planning meetings and so on—especially when participants would be on the phone bridge. I relied on lipreading and IM to get by, but it was becoming more and more challenging.
In one meeting, a customer completely refused to type anything for me—in effect saying, My time is more valuable than your need to follow along. I’ve spent my life being required to prove that I’m capable, and here was this person refusing to accommodate. I shared my frustration with my new manager in our regular one on one, expecting it to be nothing more than an opportunity for me to vent. But he listened! And instead of completely brushing me off, he asked what we could do about it.
A week or two later, a fellow deaf Intel employee shared a video that had been done about how his setup was changed to accommodate his full-time interpreters. I shared it with my boss and was surprised when he asked me to arrange a day for the two of us to fly down to Arizona to meet with that employee, his interpreters, his boss, and anyone else who could point us in the right direction.
So we flew down and spent a few days learning some best practices—like employing a small, consistent group of interpreters who can create signage for complex Intel terms, as well as utilizing the Intel ADA office. We saw how a few simple accommodations could make a world of difference in a deaf employee’s ability to contribute.
In the few months since my interpreters started, my work life has been completely transformed and the response from my team and others I work with has been overwhelmingly positive! I’ve been able to participate fully and more efficiently with my team. A few weeks ago, we had a big deliverable for which a lot of teamwork was needed. It was crazy! Looking back on it, I probably wouldn’t have been able to contribute nearly as effectively without my interpreters. I really cannot believe I am so lucky to work at a place like Intel.